Global climate action needed to combat climate change

Extreme weather events are not new to mankind. But climate change has undoubtedly made them more frequent and intense.

2 mins read
Buildings are shrouded in haze in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Aug. 26, 2023. The Metro Vancouver continued an air quality advisory for the metro Vancouver region on Saturday due to high concentration of fine particulate matter caused by smoke from wildfires spreading across British Columbia. (Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua)

Canada’s raging wildfires have been worrying since the beginning of this year. Living in Ottawa, I’ve personally experienced the detrimental effects of wildfires on air quality and pollution. Meanwhile, punishing heat waves have grown more common across the world.

Extreme weather events are not new to mankind. But climate change has undoubtedly made them more frequent and intense. While impressed by the mighty power and vulnerability of nature, we genuinely feel that when it comes to tackling climate change, countries around the world are like passengers aboard the same ship.

China, the largest developing country and home to more than 1.4 billion, is confronted with numerous and arduous tasks including economic growth, improving people’s livelihood, pollution control, and ecological protection. China considers promoting harmony between humanity and nature as one of the essential requirements of its modernization. The country is implementing its national strategy for actively responding to climate change. Having incorporated the goals of peaking carbon emissions and carbon neutrality into its overall economic and social development, the country promotes a transition to green economic and social development.

China pursues the goals of peaking carbon emissions and carbon neutrality not under compulsion, but of its own accord. After tremendous efforts, we have seen remarkable results. In 2021, China’s carbon intensity dropped by an impressive 50.8 percent from the level in 2005. During the past decade, China’s annual energy consumption has grown at a rate of 3 percent, supporting an average economic growth rate of 6.6 percent. Behind these figures are China’s strong commitment to reducing carbon emissions and promoting carbon sequestration. Please allow me to share some examples of China’s proactive actions in this regard.

Let’s start with renewable energy. China’s investment in renewable energy has ranked first in the world for many consecutive years. China boasts the largest installed capacity for hydropower, wind, solar, and biomass power. In 2022, China’s electricity generation from renewables stood at 2.7 trillion kWh, accounting for 31.6 percent of the country’s total electricity consumption. By the end of 2022, the total installed capacity of renewable energy in China exceeded that of coal, marking a historic leap in energy development. China’s efforts in developing renewable energy have greatly reduced the utilization cost of such energy and made significant contributions to global carbon emission reduction.

A second area is new energy vehicles (NEVs). China leads the world in terms of NEV production, sales and ownership. In the first half of the year, the production and sales volume of China’s NEVs amounted to 3.79 million and 3.75 million units respectively, with the sales volume contributing 28.3 percent of all vehicles combined. By the end of June 2023, China’s NEV ownership surpassed 16.2 million units, accounting for more than half of the global total.

China’s intensified efforts in afforestation cannot be ignored, either. Now China has the world’s largest planted forests, and it ranks fifth and second worldwide in terms of forest area and grassland area, respectively. While global forest resources continue to decline, China’s forest coverage rate has nearly doubled from 12 percent in the 1980s to over 24 percent today. The country has witnessed an impressive increase of 8.5 billion cubic meters in forest stock. China tops the world in forest resource growth, and has contributed to one-fourth of the global afforestation increase.

Frequent wildfire disasters and continuous heat waves present a formidable challenge to us. However, it is heartening to see that our efforts have paid off. Global climate action is gathering momentum. China is committed to collaborating with all countries, including Canada, to rise to this challenge and build a fair and rational global climate governance system for win-win results.

Cong Peiwu

Cong Peiwu has served as China’s Ambassador to Canada since 2019. Ambassador Cong has held several positions within the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, including director-general (2014–2019). Previously, he served as minister-counsellor and minister within the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2009–2014). He graduated from China Foreign Affairs University.

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